Monday, July 22, 2024

Triton track coach meets with success, receives state honor

Shelly Bungum got a taste for coaching during college, and never turned away from it.

Nowadays you can find her as a coach at Triton Public Schools. In October she was named the Minnesota State High School Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year during a banquet in the Twin Cities, after being nominated by and voted for by a jury of her coaching peers.

“I was just shocked and humbled,” Bungum said. “There’s so many amazing coaches in our section and in the state, and to be selected is pretty cool.”

Bungum teaches physical education to kindergarten through fifth graders at Triton. She is the head coach for cross country and the assistant track and field coach.

During her Triton tenure, she has coached many remarkable athletes. Those include Owen Petersohn, the state champion in the 110m and 300m hurdles in 20022. Petersohn was not only the first state champion for Triton, but a double state champ.

Other notable athletes Bungum coached were Pierce Petersohn and Hanna Strom, who were state entrants in the 2023 MSHSL Track and Field State Championships.

Another worthy achievement has been Bungum’s effort to resuscitate the Triton cross country program. She rounded up three athletes to compete this year, and hopes for a team of five next year.

As for her state award, Bungum said the Northfield head coach notified her she’d been selected. “I was pretty shocked,” she said. “There are a lot of coaches.”

After that initial phone call, a state representative sent Bungum an email with all the information she needed to attend the October 14 banquet in the metro.

Her family was with her, and she said it was amazing to hear others’ stories at the ceremony.

“Listening to them really made me reflect on all of the amazing athletes I got to be a part of and watch them move onto college,” she said. “A coach’s dream is to move onto college and be successful in college, to get them to the next level. That’s amazing as well.”

Bungum has three sons, Dylan, 32, Adam, 29, and Leif, 25, with husband Dean, and three grandkids. All three of her sons competed in track when they were students in Hayfield.

She got her coaching start in 1989 at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse after completing her athletic career as a hurdler when she became an All American. During her fifth year of school, her coach asked if she would stay on and help coach the hurdlers. She readily agreed.

“It was such an amazing experience to coach at that level,” she said.

Her first job after college graduation was in Grand Meadow and in 1990, Triton hired her on.

Outside of teaching and coaching, Bungum enjoys golf, running, gardening, cross country and downhill skiing in the winter, and spending time with her family.

“Staying busy is who I am,” she said. “It’s kind of in my DNA.”

“Hurdling is in my blood,” she said. “I coach hurdles, high jump, distance and middle distance and relay so spring is a really busy time. But I love it.”

Bungum said she loves seeing the success her student athletes find. When they do what she demonstrated in practice, and it works during competition, it’s a proud coach moment, she said.

The biggest hardship is when athletes are injured. “It’s heartbreaking,” she said. “You want them to do their best. You’re helpless. You want to fix something for them and sometimes you can’t.”

As for what’s challenging, Bungum said “when they don’t have a good race. They worked so hard, and they hit a hurdle and go down. It’s teaching them adversity and how to bounce back.”



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